The General Secretariat for Civil Protection (GSCP) is representing our country in the Council of Europe (CoE) and more specifically in the EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement.
The CoE is an intergovernmental organization established on May 5, 1949, by the London Treaty, which was signed by 10 countries: Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom and aims at:
- The protection of human rights and the democratic principles and ideals
- The promotion of the European conscience and the encouragement of the development of a European cultural identity
- The exploration of solutions for problems faced by the European society like racism, xenophobia, intolerance, protection of the environment, cloning, AIDS, drugs, organized crime etc.
- The consolidation of democratic stability in Europe by enhancing every political, legislative and constitutional reform.
The CoE is not to be confused with the European Union, despite the fact that all its 15 EU member states are members of the CoE.
EUR-OPA: Major Hazards Agreement
On March 20, 1987, the Commission of Ministers of France, Greece, Italy, Luxemburg, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Republic of San Marino and Turkey, decided to establish with resolution Number 87(2), within the framework of the CoE, an intergovernmental agreement on major disaster response issues. This agreement was named ‘EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement’ as it remains open for any other country wishing to become its member. It was ratified in Greece by Law 2031/92.
Its purpose is the cooperation and exchange of experiences and information among the countries of Eastern and Western Europe and the countries of the southern Mediterranean Sea in major disaster response issues.
Today, the Agreement is including 26 member states (Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Spain, Cyprus, Croatia, Luxemburg, Malta, Moldavia, Ukraine, Portugal, FYROM, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Algeria, Armenia, Lebanon, Morocco, and Monaco). Apart from the last six countries, the rest of the countries are members of the CoE.
Four additional countries are participating as observers in the Agreement (Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Japan) as well as international organizations like the EU, UN, UNESCO, WHO, OCHA and the international federation of Red Cross.
In order that the goals of the Agreement be achieved and that the interest and direct participation in it by the member states are secured, special European Centres have been established. Two of them, based in Greece, are the European Centre on Prevention and Forecasting of Earthquakes (ECPFE), which is operating in the Greek Earthquake Planning and Protection Organisation (EPPO), as well as the European Centre for Forest Fires (ECFF), which is operating in the General Secretariat for Civil Protection.
Council of Europe: http://www.coe.int/